Friday, September 19, 2008

DHL - Ringmaster of F1 traveling circus

SUNDAY'S chequered flag at Monza marked the end of the Italian Grand Prix, but for DHL, it signaled the start of another race- to transport the massive amount of equipment and supplies for a Formula One race to Singapore.

From Paddock Club espresso machines and champagne, to cars and tyres for the 10 teams, almost everything that is essential to the running of a grand prix is transported by DHL.

"Throughout the season, we move up to 300 tonnes of equipment per race across four continents... by land, sea andair, to a tightly controlled timetable," said Dan McHugh, chief executive of DHL Express-Asia Pacific, yesterday.

The transport giant has been F1's official logistics provider since 2004.

Added McHugh: "Logistics for F1 is living life in the fast lane. Any delay in the transportation could have severe consequences for the teams 'results."

Each consignment arrives at the next venue nine days ahead of the race.

The freight for the Sept 28 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix will touch down on Saturday and Sunday, aboard three Boeing 747s loaded with 300 tonnes of airfreight and 50 40-foot containers.

This includes racing cars and their replacements, fuel, up to 100 radio sets and headphones and computer equipment.

And, it is not just the teams' needs that are served. Paper serviettes for hospitality, 3,000 bottles of water and vacuum cleaners for the exclusive Paddock Club are also transported.

On average, 20,000 individual items-the smallest being a 1.5 mm screw and the largest being a car engine- are moved for each race.

During transportation, the cars are double-stacked in special racks, and their front and back flaps removed.

At each track, a mobile logistics centre provides 24-hour service covering everything from parcel delivery to spare parts that teams require at the last minute.

"We have specialised units in England and Italy to coordinate the movement of cars, equipment and fuel, and a dedicated team of 30 staff for F1," said McHugh.

But moving so much equipment and so many different types of items presents challenges, including dealing with different regulations and requirements in different countries.

To prevent any hiccups, a long list is drawn up before each season. It contains changes in traffic and customs regulations.

This serves as the basis for DHL's planning and cargo lists. For instance, Japan's ban on importing food, and Australia,China and Malaysia's ban on importing wood are noted on this list.

Because of such advance planning, DHL has not encountered any major problems so far, said Thomas Nieszner, its
CEO for Europe (Global Forwarding).

In a conference call from Basel, he added that Singapore holding the sport's first night race has not fazed staff.

"There is a sense of 'nervousness' I would say, because it's the first time in Singapore ... but we are very well prepared," he said.

"Teamwork, speed and credibility are the essence of F1. Speed, precision and seamless service are the trademarks of DHL."

This article was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 16, 2008.

No comments: